The states of John Key – Flexible in telling the truth

Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, July 25th, 2010 - 6 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

Fourth of a series by Guest poster Blue.

Honesty, transparency and trust were central planks of Key’s 2008 election bid. He got tough on Winston Peters, insisting that he couldn’t work with someone so dishonest, and his government would set higher standards. He promised to resign as Prime Minister if the age for National Superannuation was raised. He promised no state assets would be sold in the first term, and if that changed he would seek a mandate from the electorate by campaigning on it at the next election.

His goal was to assure the electorate that National could be trusted, by giving them himself to believe in. But Honest John’s record hasn’t been spotless when it comes to his integrity and commitment to transparency.

Key’s tendency to play fast and loose with the truth was recognized by media as early as 2007, when Audrey Young posted a blog titled ‘I’m bloody angry with Key‘ after he’d misrepresented his position on a complementary medicines proposal. He apologized, and she quickly forgave him, but the ‘Key wriggle’ was well on the way to becoming a signature dance move.

He refused to say what his position was on the 1981 Springbok Tour, saying “oh, I can’t even remember … 1981, I was 20 … ah … I don’t really know. I didn’t really have a strong feeling on it at the time. Look, it’s such a long time ago.”  At the time he was applauded because he was seen to be focusing on the future, rather than the past. But looking back, it was a classic Key instance of avoidance. He does not want to tell outright lies, for fear of being caught, but if the truth will offend, he will try to get out of saying it in any way that he can.

His talk about state asset sales is another classic example of being less than transparent. Bill English is on tape saying that they do want to sell Kiwibank ‘eventually, but not now’ and John Key promised no asset sales ‘in our first term’. Despite this, Bill English tested the waters for selling Kiwibank by floating the idea at a post-Budget lunch. Despite the obvious desire to sell state assets, John Key will not come out and admit it, preferring to hide behind the flimsy construction that the Government has not done any work on that yet. He finally ruled out selling Kiwibank only after being caught promising never to sell it on the TV3 leaders debate before the last election.

But perhaps Key’s most acrobatic performance to date has to be on GST. Caught on video before the last election promising not to raise GST if elected, he had to backpeddle furiously after his Government did decide to raise GST. His weak justification that he had said he wouldn’t raise GST ‘to cover deficits’ was widely panned, with commentators calling on him to admit the truth that before the election he had not intended to raise GST, but after the election and the Tax Working Group’s advice he decided it was a good idea.  When he realized that he had promised not to raise it, and could be painted as a liar, he resorted to desperate measures.

With both Kiwibank and GST, Key has had to do some fast talking to get out of trouble. He absolutely does not want to be caught breaking an election promise. His goal is to get a second term for National, where they can do more and swallow fewer dead rats, and he believes that will only happen if he can convince voters that he means what he says. But no matter what promises are made, Key has shown an ability to either get around the promise, or to simply do things he never made any promises about because he didn’t mention them before the election.

Key’s biggest ‘transparency’ coup has been around exposing MP’s expenses to the media. Phil Heatley ‘resigned’ over a very small expenses matter, making Key’s administration look like an almost draconian guardian of public money (necessary after Bill English’s housing allowance revelations).

Key then tried to set Labour up by exposing their ministerial credit card expenses from when they were in Government, knowing that with any such exercise there’s always something the media can find to whip into a scandal and doing it only after he’d scared his own ministers off using their cards so they’d be squeaky clean. However, when one of those ministers, Tim Groser, was caught up in it over his hefty alcohol bills, Key made excuses for him and refused to take any action.


Series posts

The states of John Key Quantum uncertainty
The states of John Key The drivers
The states of John Key The Salesman
The states of John Key – Flexible in telling the truth

6 comments on “The states of John Key – Flexible in telling the truth”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Jonkey’s only moment of telling the truth was when he said that he wanted to see wages drop. He then went on a rampage to get the paper to retract what was reported and telling lies about what he had said (saying that he didn’t say that or that he was talking about Australian wages). Of course, he said that when he didn’t realise that a reporter was there and so was less cautious about telling his base the truth.

    • Anne 1.1

      Hang on Draco you’ve forgotten another instance when Key told the truth – in the House. He talked about Bill and Mary Smith who had rung him the night before to congratulate him about something or another – someone might remember what it was. He was then heard to tell Brownlee that “he’d made the story up.” Now that was a truth!

  2. Tigger 2

    A psychologist friend analysed Key and notes he has many of the traits of a sociopath.

    Then again, so do many politicians…

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    AS an opposition ‘spokesman’ his lies were easy to expose, but now hes PM , there is a group a paid publicity advisors from Crosby/Textor down who will fight to the death to prevent these lies being exposed. What journalist would now risk their career to point out the emperor has no clothes.
    Just look at the facts coming out now about Visyboard owner Pratt in Australia( now dead), they didnt dare publish beforehand, yet it was the Competition regulator who stood his ground.

  4. Cnr Joe 4

    May we add his Fran Mold ‘Tranzrail eyes’ moment?
    In fact – I just googled Frans name to make sure I had her surname right and for the heck of it I googled ‘john key lies’ – came up with 6 760 000 hits in 0.26 secs
    John key lies about Iraq
    John Key lies about surgical mining
    John Key lies about family trust
    John key lies about Melissa Lee NZOA letter
    ah phukit, I’ve got to get up and and not go to the job I don’t have
    oh – and this mutt is a pathological liar – no question. Now I know how he got hold of 50 million of other peoples money.
    add to the list if yiz feel like it

    captcha – proportions

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